In August of 2018 I received a phone call from The Refuge President asking if I would be interested in working for The Refuge as a House Manager. I accepted and since then I have found this to be my passion. While working with the clients, I saw myself. I had been homeless and had the same struggles. I didn't have family to help or know where to find the resources to help me. Homeless in 2009, I moved to Gaylord and stayed with my brother until I could find my own place and during that time I started volunteering at United Way. That is when I learned about all the resources that are out there to help people who are homeless so now I take and share that knowledge with my clients and support them through the process.
Retired Federal government attorney, B.A. in Social Work, and 30+ years in non-profit volunteer work, including shelter programs for men, women and children. I spent my first volunteer overnight on Christmas Eve in my church men's shelter in Washington, DC. While other residents had been invited home for this special day, one resident had burned so many bridges with his family because of alcoholism he had no place to share Christmas. As we talked, he was obviously well educated, articulate, and he shared stories of his working days as a newspaper reporter covering the highest levels of government. Alcoholism had a relentless grip on him. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him and it left such an impression about the realities of homelessness, I continue to try to help those in need - now for 30+ years.
I have 3 adult daughters and 10 grandchildren. 30+ year Licensed Title Examiner. I loved to draw out Meets and Bounds (acreage) descriptions. 3 years licensed realtor, 3 years licensed Table Game Dealer. Currently Gaylord Eagles Auxiliary Treasurer, Zone 3 Eagles Board Member and District 8 Eagles Auxiliary Secretary. In 80’s, I was a City of Wayne Jaycette (Jaycee) and was known as “the happy helper.” I became homeless while waiting 2 years for my Disability. During this time, I was driving others that were also clients of the Refuge to stores, appointments, and etc. Prior to being homeless, I thought the homeless were drug addicts and alcoholics. Boy was I wrong! Homelessness can happen to anyone for many reasons, including the elderly. I have been a volunteer for The Refuge since about two months after I graduated from being homeless.
As a lifelong resident of the county and a recent retiree at Gordon Food Service after 40 years, I was looking for some way to give back to my community. Being involved in the Otsego County Food Pantry, I started to see the needs of our residents. I was approached by a couple of the Refuge board members to join the board as Treasurer. I prayed about it and felt that was something I could help with.
CPRM, CPRM-m, CW. I am a woman in long term recovery. My passion lies within the field of substance use disorder (SUD) and substance use recovery, and those who struggle in and out of this chronic health condition. I have worked in this field for over 7 years, and I currently work full-time for the State office of rural health on the SUD crisis. I manage and operate a women’s recovery home, and I volunteer within my community in several ways. Adequate housing is a major component to one’s life. It can affect how an individual finds recovery, or find the ability to live, laugh and love.
Nmsas Recovery Center, Peer Support Assistant. My heart was pulled into helping those without a home in 2012 when the Friendship Housing Center was closed. Having two brothers who struggled greatly motivated me to better understand the complexities of this plight in our country. They have since passed, but the love I have for them will not, as I miss them every day.
KATHY & RAY RIVERS
Our names are Ray and Kathy Rivers. Kathy retired from the Otsego County Commission on Aging and Ray retired from the US Postal Service. We love to spend time with our family camping, motorcycle rides and quiet time together just reading. We are happy to serve on The Refuge board as we believe every person deserves a safe place to live.
Actor/Voiceover talent of 40+ years and 30+ years working in programs to serve the homeless. Working with the homeless has given me the opportunity to give back and has really opened my eyes to the complexities, both individual and systemic, of confronting homelessness in our community.